Author: GM

Of Montreal

Of Montreal
Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
4.5 out of 5
John Dillon

With lines like, “physics makes us all its bitches,” and music that would make David Bowie and David Byrne proud, Hissing Fauna, Are The Destroyer? is a hit. At first listen the latest from Of Montreal seems a bit chaotic, but this all comes together when you add the lyrics. This album is a great representation of the brain behind the band. In previous albums Kevin Barnes has always used characters to tell his stories, but this album digs deep into what he has gone through in the past few years. He was separated from his wife and then consequently his new born daughter.
In this album Barnes lets his emotions poor out into a powerful mix of sorrow and resentment. The music in itself is an extremely complex combination of electronic and rock and roll. In many cases while producing this type of music it can be easy to go overboard, but Barnes and company do a fantastic job of keeping the listener’s attention while not overloading them with too much going on.
The layers of voices and different instruments give the same great Of Montreal sound as in previous albums, but with the emotion of Barnes lyrics this is one of the best. Hissing Fauna, Are The Destroyer? is out on vinyl and cd now. The LP comes with a free download of the album so you can still put it on your computer. The vinyl comes with an extra four tracks.

Queens of the Stone Age

Queens of the Stone Age

Era Vulgaris

Rating: 4 of 5 stars

By Ben Griebel

Once again the Queens of the Stone Age have managed to produce a solid rock and roll album. The self described “robot rock” band drive home heavy reverb drenched rock riffs with a machine like precision. The album features the usual repetitive, but catchy, guitar licks that fans have come to expect. Era Vulgaris won’t disappoint long time fans, as the Queen’s sound has changed little since their break out album Songs for the Deaf. However the new album lacks the same cohesive forces present in Songs for the Deaf, which flowed song to song with the sounds of a radio dial tuning in. The album’s singles, “Sick Sick Sick” and “3’s and 7’s,” deliver an enjoyable hard rock sound that listeners will find hard to shake from their heads. “Suture Up Your Future” exemplifies the Queen’s dark and dreamy sound, and fades beautifully into “River in the Road,” making these two songs easily the highlight of the album.

For long time fans Era Vulgaris is well worth the fifteen odd dollars that they will pay for it, but with little evolution to their sound and a slightly less coherent flow to the album then in the past they are unlikely to pick up any new fans. With its in your face guitar work, which hails back to a simpler time in rock and roll, and haunting sound Era Vulgaris earns itself a respectable 4 of five stars.

The Spinto Band

The Spinto Band: Moonwink
Author: Genna Ord
Rating: 2.5/ 5

When people consider the hotbeds of musical talent, the Midwest has a habit of being overlooked.  Paying more attention to upcoming artists, however, shows that Mid-America is being severely underrated, and the bandMason Proper, who began in Apena, Michigan, is one prime example. Olly Oxen Free, the band’s sophomore album, was mixed in an 11-day marathon session, but the tight time schedule isn’t apparent in the finished product.  Part of this might be due to the talents of Chris Coady, the producer/engineer who has worked with groups like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Blonde Redhead, but Mason Proper’s own skill would have made the

album a success regardless. For those who missed their first (and self-produced) CD, There Is A Moth In Your Chest, Mason Proper has a sound that brings to mind groups like The Shins, but not enough to draw a straight line between them like a twisted, hazy reflection in a funhouse mirror.

Jonathan Visger’s vocals are wispy and eerie, and many of the tracks are in a minor key with occasional tempo changes and murky background noises, from wailing sounds to seemingly random piano chords. The opening track, “Fog”, earns its name. The entirety of the song feels poised at that in-between time just before or after the sun breaks the horizon, and the sound is soft-edged but still full, like a shape in the mist.  It sets the tone for the rest of the album, which explores the darker side of things there are several mentions of flies and fog throughout Olly Oxen Free without leaving the listener feeling depressed.  The late-September release is good planning; the album is best listened to when looking out at fallen leaves and gray skies.

“Down that twisted path, you can find us there,” Visger promises in the first line of Only a Moment, and you can bet I’ll following those directions.

Elliot Smith

Elliott Smith
New Moon
Domino Recording Company
By Alec Bell
4 out of 5 stars

This album is a two-disc compilation of the late Elliott Smith’s recently rare and unreleased songs from a period in Elliott Smith’s life where he began releasing his solo music (1994-1997). The compilation also includes a cover of Big Star’s “Thirteen.” The compilation as a whole is very accessible, yet a poor surface reading might classify this as a drone and dreary album. In its simplicity, Smith’s voice and rather consistent dynamic spread create a beautiful sound that has depth in its moments of sadness, anger and its happy interventions. Track one; “Angels in the Snow” sets the tone for the whole album with paradoxically somber sounding lyrics that serve the dual purpose of evoking a depression and a celebration of his love for the Angel. As for influences and musical similarities, momentarily, track three on the second disc, “Big Decision,” has a certain resemblance to some of the classic Violent Femmes songs. Also, “Fear City” has a repeating chord progression similar to some of those created by Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain. The mood of this compilation is very true to what Elliott Smith delivers in his other albums. The lyrics help to drive this point home, especially in New Monkey:

He’s in my ear

Wants me to live in denial

Says you’ve gotta settle for something
Though it might not be really living
Anything is better than nothing

The cover echoes the simplicity of Smith’s art of song making. The album cover incorporates the colors Vincent Van Gogh used in his early paintings and is reminiscent of his painting “Stary Night.” Overall, this album is solid; listen to it straight through or on shuffle. Specifically check out “Angel in the Snow,” “High Times,” “Looking Over My Shoulder”, “Fear City,” “New Monkey,” and “Either/ Or”.